by Mike Ratliff
Τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται, ἵνα δῷ ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ ὕψος καὶ βάθος, γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ. (Ephesians 3:14-19 NA27)
For this cause I bend my knees to the Father from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth is named, that He may grant you according to the wealth of His glory to become mightily empowered in your inner being through His Spirit so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, that you might have strength to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. (a personal translation of Ephesians 3:14-19 from the NA27 Greek text)
I would not pass the test for post modernism in any context. I am not politically correct nor do I care whether I am or am not. If that becomes a requirement for employment or something else that we view as temporally vital in this age, I will still refuse. On the other hand, as I walk through my day in this world, that does not mean that those around me are not exposed to God’s love through me. As I have meditated a great deal on this lately, I have done much repentance as well. When unbelievers see me, get to know me, et cetera, they should be drawn to Christ because they see evidence of His love being manifest through me. Is that always the case? Oh that it was! If we walk in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified in all of our relationships, how can we be self-centered jerks at anytime with anyone?
Christian maturity is something that consists of spiritual depth. The more we have, the less of the temporal we hang on to, the more humble we are, the more Christ-focused we are, the less self-focused we are. You see, I think doctrine is vital in knowing the truth about God and our Salvation, but when it comes to knowing Him and obeying Him, and walking in repentance, that is a whole other dimension. Now, John Owen was a tremendous theologian, but he was also humble and all about teaching believers how to walk in humility and mortifying their sin. William Tyndale was as well. Some balk at the study of theology saying things like, “deeds not creeds.” Doctrine is fundamental. Not everyone needs to know Greek and Hebrew nor be an expert at theology at the Doctorial level, but all believers should be able to share their faith with and lead a lost person to Christ, to give a reason for the hope that is within us. That means that there is some level of doctrine that we all need to know. The more the better, however, we should never pursue it at the cost of what Paul was talking about in his prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19, which I placed at the top of this post.
Let’s focus on vv17-19, “κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ ὕψος καὶ βάθος,γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ.”
Here is my translation, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, that you might have strength to grasp together with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.”
Paul wants all believers to be rooted and grounded in love. Why? It is so they will have the Spiritual strength to understand and know the fullness of Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge. Why? In this, we will be filled to all the fullness of God. Now, I hope you noticed that it all begins with us being rooted and grounded in love. What does this mean?
The words “having been rooted” in v17 translates the verb ἐρριζωμένοι, which is a Perfect, Passive, Participle of ῥιζόω or rhizoō, “rooted, strengthened with roots.” This is metaphorical of course. Paul is telling us that a Christian grows because he or she is rooted like a tree. In what is a Christian rooted? I had a tree in my backyard blow over a couple of days ago when a gust front moved through. It was my oldest tree. I planted it in 2001. It was a Maple. The only thing left is a stump that is firmly rooted in the ground. The tree died because insects bored through the side of the trunk, weakening it and when the strong wind hit, it just went over. My healthy trees were able to withstand the wind with no problem. The insects had actually blocked the nutrients from reaching from the roots up through the trunk to the rest of the tree. On the outside, it looked healthy, but after the trunk snapped, we could see where they had done their damage.
Christians are rooted in love. The Word of God is the seed; love is the soil in which we are rooted. The Word of God is placed in soil of the love of Christ; the two are inseparable. Those who grow in the Word love the Word.
We are also grounded in love. The word “grounded” in my translation of v17 is the verb τεθεμελιωμένοι, which is a Perfect, Passive, Participle of θεμελιόω or themelioō, “to lay the foundation of anything.” Not only are we to be rooted in the soil of love for Christ, but also grounded in it like the foundation of a building. If Christians are not firmly and deeply grounded in the things of God, then whatever they build will soon crumble or, at least, be revealed as being “of the world and the flesh.” The foundation is the love of Christ and His Word, that is, the foundation of genuine believers. When a professing Christian leader ministers upon some other foundation with roots elsewhere, the growth seen will be based within that paradigm, not the genuine Church.
I know that the Church is going through a time of spiritual darkness all over the world. However, let us never forget that what we are witnessing is the world just being more and more rebellious as the visible church loses its saltiness. This is happening because genuine believers are becoming a smaller and smaller minority within it. The visible church’s apostasy is growing in repugnance, however, that does not mean that we should despair. Let us stand firm, being firmly rooted and grounded in our love for Christ and His Word.
No matter how wicked the world becomes and how apostate the visible church is, we are still in Christ and all the promises we have in Him are still in place. Persecution and fiery trials will come upon the faithful, Jesus said to expect that. We can stand firm and not fall away if we remain faithful with the Holy Spirit giving us the strength to stand. Even so, come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloira!